CAPAC Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at an APA Heritage Month ceremony held May 8 at the U.S. Capitol on May 8 (from left): Sen. Brian Schatz, Rep. Grace Napolitano, Rep. Mike Honda, Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. Bobby Scott, Rep. Ami Bera, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Eni Faleomavaega.

WASHINGTON — May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), a time for all Americans to celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched the nation’s history.

To commemorate the month, Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, introduced H.Res. 189. Sen. Mazie Hirono introduced a companion resolution in the U.S. Senate.

CAPAC members also released the following statements on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:

CAPAC Leadership

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time for our country to celebrate the ways in which generations of Asian Pacific Americans have contributed to the vibrancy of our nation. From the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad to the entrepreneurs and small business owners that drive our economy today, Asian Pacific Americans have been instrumental in every step of our nation’s growth.

“As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May, my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and I will continue to ensure that the needs of the Asian Pacific American community are included as we push for commonsense immigration reform and policies to reignite the American Dream for all.”

Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), CAPAC vice chair: “The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus represents a large and diverse community. This year, the 113th Congress welcomed a record five new APA members and the most diverse group of members in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. I join my colleagues in CAPAC in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and urge all Americans to take time to learn about the many achievements, contributions and sacrifices APAs make to our nation.

“This month also gives us an opportunity to draw attention to the disparities and obstacles APAs continue to face every day. CAPAC is committed to working to overcome these challenges and advance legislative priorities to help improve the quality of life our APA community.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), CAPAC whip: “I am honored to stand alongside my colleagues as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Although we come from a multitude of diverse languages and cultures, we are united by a shared commitment to better this country through our active participation. Because of the contributions of the Asian and Pacific Islander community, America is a more vibrant and resilient nation.”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), CAPAC chair emeritus: “As chair emeritus, Immigration Taskforce co-chair and Appropriations Taskforce chair of CAPAC, and as the representative of California’s 17th District, I am proud to celebrate May’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. APA Heritage Month is a time for our nation to reflect and remember those Asian American and Pacific Islanders who came before us, and to honor and inspire those still to come, in our fight for civil rights and social justice.

“From the makings of the Transcontinental Railroad, to the courage of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Filipino veterans, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II; from the pioneering spirit of Dalip Singh Saund, who was the first Asian American to be elected in Congress, to the enduring heroism of our late Sen. Daniel Inouye – the contributions and lessons of AAPIs continue to enrich the fabric and vitality of our nation.

“Celebrating APA Heritage Month is not only a time of significance to the AAPI community; it is a time for all Americans to take pride in the diversity of our nation. Let us take this month – and every month for that matter – to reaffirm our commitment to the promise of America’s future for all Americans.”

U.S. Senators

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the culture and stories of AAPI families that enrich our nation. Our unique island culture in Hawaii, from local plate lunches to the pidgin language, is a product of the vibrant melting pot of AAPI cultures. The examples of Hawaii’s distinctive cultural heritage are numerous: Hawaii families enjoy andagi at the Honolulu Okinawan Festival, modern farmers look to traditional Native Hawaiian sustainable agriculture practices for inspiration and Samoan Americans from Hawaii continue to make waves in sports, politics and business.

“This month, let us recognize and celebrate the many achievements of AAPI families and the cultural vitality they bring to this nation.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii): “Growing up in Hawaii, one of the best and most unique things about our state is the rich culture. This month, as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we remember the many contributions that the Asian Pacific American community has made not only to our state, but to our entire country. I hope that you will join me in observing this month with great honor and pride as we celebrate the history of the entire community.”

Congressional Leadership

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), House Democratic leader: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable achievements, rich cultures, and extraordinary contributions of the AAPI community. Americans from Asia and the Pacific Islands have risen above hardship, prejudice, and outright persecution to become an indelible part of the American story.

“For generations, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have dedicated their lives to developing and defending the heritage of our country. Today, they are defining our country’s future as leaders in business and government, athletics and public service. Their perseverance in the pursuit of opportunity and equality helps shape our identity, ensure our progress, and safeguard the success of future generations.

“Nowhere is that truer than in my hometown of San Francisco, where a vibrant and growing AAPI community strengthens our city and reminds us every day that the beauty is in the mix. In working to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we can unite AAPI families and ensure the diversity embodied by these communities remains a virtue of America’s strength.

“During this Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us honor the sacrifices, the successes, and the resilience of our AAPI community. Let us recognize the invaluable role Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played in the success of our past and will play in building our future. Let us reaffirm our legacy as a nation that derives its power from our most basic promise: out of many, we are one.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Democratic whip: “During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we celebrate the many contributions to our national life by a vibrant community with a proud history. In every aspect of our society, including business, government, education, science, sports, the arts, and our armed services, members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities continue to play a crucial role in shaping American history. The rich diversity of cultures among these communities enhances the American story and strengthens our nation. I join in thanking our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities for all they have done to help forge a more perfect union for the benefit of generations of Americans to come.”

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), House Democratic Caucus chair: “Asian American and Pacific Islander communities play key roles in building and strengthening America. I’m honored to represent Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh and Little Tokyo, each of which reminds us of our AAPI heritage and its special place in our history and importance to our future. As civic leaders, small business owners, and active participants in our democracy, the AAPI community has enriched the city of Los Angeles and our nation. This month, let’s recognize our shared heritage and our fellow Americans who will continue contributing so much to America’s success.”

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), House Democratic Caucus vice chair: “I am proud to join my fellow Americans in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have long made, and continue to make, positive and meaningful contributions to New York and our entire country. Whether it is through the sciences, arts, business, or government, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped shape every facet of American society.

“As we celebrate this month, let us recognize the struggles of the past while paying tribute to the many stories of achievement and success.”

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair: “America is a greater country because of the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who have shaped the rich collection of customs and traditions that make up our nation. Our Asian Pacific communities have produced influential leaders in business and culture, and have thrived despite the challenges that they have faced. Within the Asian Pacific community, 17 million strong, 1.5 million are business owners who are working to rebuild our economy and 258,183 are veterans who have served our country in the armed services.

“As we work toward achieving comprehensive immigration reform and celebrate Asian Pacific American Month, we recognize the countless contributions of the Asian immigrant community, which has shaped our country’s destiny and have moved our nation forward.”

CAPAC Executive Board

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Rancho Cordova): “As the only Indian American in Congress, I’m proud to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Our community has made many contributions to the United States that we should celebrate. This May, let us both honor those who have led the way for us, and encourage new Asian and Pacific Americans to take on leadership roles in their communities and careers to further enrich our great country.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time for us to both reflect on how far Asian Americans have come and how far we still have to go. Asian Americans helped build this country by constructing the railroads that connected this country from East to West. Despite facing injustices such as the internment camps during World War II, many served our country to defend democracy and freedom around the world. Now, we are serving in the Cabinet, Congress, and running Fortune 500 companies in greater numbers than ever.

“Still, we have more work to do to make sure that all Asian Americans are able to achieve the American Dream. On issues especially important to Asian Americans, such as preserving family co-sponsorship as part of immigration reform, I look forward to making sure that our voices are heard.”

Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa): “This month we celebrate a rich heritage and pay tribute to Asian Pacific Americans whose sacrifice, hard work, and patriotism have contributed immeasurably to the greatness of our nation. We honor these pioneers, past and present, and those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. This year, I particularly want to acknowledge a pioneer whose example paved the way for generations of Asian Pacific American leaders.

“Known to my constituents in American Samoa as ‘Fofoga o Samoa,’ the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was a true model of the Asian Pacific American story. This will be our first-ever Asian Pacific Heritage Month without the honorable senator, who passed away in December after a half-century of leadership in the U.S. Senate, serving the people of the great state of Hawaii. As we forge ahead to promote the well-being of the Asian Pacific American community, let us gain strength as we remember his lasting legacy.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): “This month, we proudly celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month in recognition of their significant contributions to our country. In Hawaii, the AAPI community contributes greatly to our diverse culture and has demonstrated remarkable leadership throughout our history. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka led historic careers in the U.S. Senate, for example, and Patsy Mink led the charge for Title IX and equal treatment for women in educational institutions. As leaders in our community at every level, Asian Pacific Americans have made a tremendous impact on our nation, and will continue to do so.”

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas): “In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I would like to acknowledge the considerable contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to our great nation. The Asian Pacific American community is rich with diversity and history that has enhanced the American experience. Furthermore, I am proud to be a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which works with members from both sides of the aisle to effectively represent our Asian and Pacific American constituents in Congress.

“Moving forward, we will continue to work on issues important to our constituents, such as comprehensive immigration reform, so that families can be reunited, as well as greater language access, so that the community has equal access to opportunities for success. Finally, we will work to ensure that all Americans have access to jobs that pay a living wage, comprehensive health care, Medicare, and Social Security.”

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “Growing up in Hawaii, where so many cultures and traditions coexist, I understood at an early age how important it is to respect and appreciate the diversity that makes America a model for the world. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and acknowledge the many milestones achieved by AAPIs throughout our nation’s history and the contributions our communities continue to make, let’s also recommit ourselves to the challenges we must still address. As a member of CAPAC, I will continue to work to ensure AAPIs are fully represented in our national debates and have the same opportunities enjoyed by every American.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “I am proud to stand with my colleagues in recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Now and throughout history, their contributions have enriched our communities all across the nation. Especially in my district, the California 13th, we have Asian American leaders in all sectors across all spectrums. I’m so proud of their contribution to the fabric of our country. This month, and every month, we must recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of our Asian American and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters.”

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “As an Asian American, I am so pleased to represent the historically diverse city of Sacramento, and to take part in recognizing Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. America has always pulled its strength from the celebration of our diverse cultures, traditions, and viewpoints. It is the acknowledgment of our differences that makes our Nation so readily able to address the evolving issues we face as a country. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the past, present, and future achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans in our communities.”

Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “It is a privilege to join my CAPAC colleagues in commemorating Asian Pacific American Heritage month. During this time of year, we recognize the important customs and culture of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and highlight the vital role that Asian American and Pacific Islanders play throughout our nation. It is also a time for us to recognize all the outstanding achievements and contributions that the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have made to our neighborhoods, communities and country. I am proud to join my constituents and the nation in celebrating this annual occasion. I look forward to Asian American and Pacific Islanders continuing to enrich our nation for many years to come.”

Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands): “The people of the Northern Mariana Islands join other Americans this month in celebrating the contributions that Pacific Islanders and people of Asian heritage have made to our country. As the fastest-growing segment of America’s population, we look forward to increasing the influence and impact the AAPI community can have in guiding our nation’s future for the benefit of all its people.”

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.): “As the first American of Filipino heritage to serve as a U.S. representative, I am honored to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month.  During the month of May, I encourage Americans of all backgrounds to educate themselves on the rich heritage of Asian Pacific Americans and their contributions to our great nation.”

CAPAC Associate Members

Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.): “I am pleased to join with my local community in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Northern Virginia is blessed with its rich diversity in which one in four residents is foreign-born with the largest population being of Asian Pacifica American descent. Whether it is running a business, keeping our streets safe, or serving in public office, Asian Americans are actively engaged in every facet of our community. Working together to share and learn from our cultures, we are making our community stronger.”

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.): “I am proud to join with my colleagues in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made substantial, lasting contributions to our nation that merit celebration. I look forward to continuing my work with CAPAC and I appreciate this opportunity to recognize the important role these communities play in the life of our nation.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto): “Asian Pacific American Heritage month is an important celebration in the life of our nation. Economically, culturally, academically and politically, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a significant part of our communities and add to the rich tapestry that is our great nation. I’m privileged to represent California's 18th Congressional District, now home to one of the fastest-growing Asian Pacific American populations in the country.”

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach): “This May, I am proud to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by recognizing the invaluable contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our nation. As we mark 70 years since the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act and 25 years since the granting of reparations to Japanese Americans interned during World War II, we remember the strength and determination with which Asian Pacific Americans have fought for justice, freedom, and equality.  I am proud to represent a Congressional district of incredible diversity, where more than one in five people are Asian Pacific American.

“From Little Saigon and the Korean Business District in Westminster and Garden Grove to Cambodia Town and the Filipino and Pacific Islander communities in Long Beach, this month I am pleased to join with thousands of my constituents as we celebrate the rich heritage and the ongoing achievements of Asian Pacific Americans all across our great nation.”

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-El Monte): “On behalf of the thousands of Asian Pacific Americans in my district and the millions across our country, I am pleased to join my colleagues in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In May, we take time to honor their contributions, large and small. I am proud to represent such a diverse community whose hard work and rich culture strengthens our San Gabriel Valley.”

Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego): “It is an honor to join my colleagues to celebrate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Members of Asian and Pacific Islander communities have been active citizens in neighborhoods across San Diego, and continue to contribute to the cultural fabric that makes up our region. I joined the Congressional Asian Pacific Americans Caucus so that I could most accurately represent the interests of this diverse, dynamic group here in Washington. I look forward to continued opportunities to work with API communities in the future on a range of social and economic issues, so that we can bring their important perspective to the ongoing discussions in Congress.”

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.): “I'm proud to recognize and honor the invaluable contributions of Asian American pioneers that have paved the road for their future generations to achieve the American Dream. Through strength and determination, the AAPI community has overcome prejudice, oppression and countless barriers to achieve enormous heights in America. As leaders in business, education, STEM, military, medicine or the arts, Asian Americans have contributed to our nation's prosperity and culture. The story of the AAPI community is a testament to what is possible in America. I join Asian Americans in celebrating their heritage and their well-deserved successes.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Commerce): “Asian and Pacific Islanders continue to enrich the greater Los Angeles community and our country as a whole. Today, as we mark the beginning of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us acknowledge the many contributions of this diverse community. From military service to small business ownership, education to artistic expression, members of the AAPI community have helped make our country what it is today.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove): “I am proud to represent a district where many Asian Pacific Americans call home. As we take this month to celebrate their significant contributions to our nation, it is especially important to honor the elder leaders of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community for their extraordinary work and guiding wisdom in the development of our diverse community in Orange County. I am proud to work with a group of dedicated public servants in Congress to further promote and advocate for the wellbeing of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank): “May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month and I am honored to represent the diverse Los Angeles neighborhoods of Koreatown and Thai Town, as well as large Japanese, Filipino and Chinese American communities. I am proud to join millions across the nation as we recognize the extraordinary contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and celebrate the rich heritage and cultures of our country.”

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.): “I am honored to join millions across our nation to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It is important that we recognize the key role of Asian Pacific Americans in our country’s history as members of our Armed Services, workers on the transcontinental railroad, and leaders in our communities. Currently, as one of the country’s fastest-growing populations, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has spurred small business growth and innovation, fostered business and government leaders, and contributed immensely to our diversity and culture. As a member of CAPAC, I look forward to working with my colleagues to solve challenges facing the Asian Pacific American community.”

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo): “Each May Americans celebrate the rich cultural heritage and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our nation. The landscape of my own district is brightly painted with the history of the largest population of Filipino Americans in the continental US. We are working together to recognize the Filipino veterans of World War II who fought for the US and were promised full veterans benefits, but who were later denied eligibility for them.

“I am proud to join with my CAPAC colleagues to celebrate the immigrants from Asia, the Philippines, the Pacific Islands, and generations of their descendants who represent a vital part of our nation and have distinguished themselves as outstanding entrepreneurs, members of our armed forces and community leaders. The heroes of the AAPI community represent the very best aspects of American life and have enhanced the moral fabric of my district, the state of California, and our country.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Pleasanton): “Every May we recognize the impressive history of Asian Americans and the invaluable contributions they have made to our nation’s success as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I am honored to represent a portion of the East Bay that is home to a vibrant Asian American community, one that enriches the fabric and great diversity of our country. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in Congress and Americans across the country to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.): “During the month of May, we honor the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have helped to make our country great. We also rededicate ourselves to addressing the challenges still facing this community as we continue to work in Congress to address their concerns and advance their aspirations.”

Background

May is officially designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by Section 102 of Title 36, United States Code. The observance originally began as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week, which was established through a joint congressional resolution in 1978. The month of May was chosen due to two important milestones: May 7, 1843, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the U.S., and May 10, 1869, when the first Transcontinental Railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrant workers.

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus is composed of members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. It has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.

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